do tax volunteers do?
Forsyth Working Families Partnership offers free income tax preparation for
families earning under $54,000 at a variety of sites from January 29 to April 16. IRS-certified volunteers file federal
and state returns electonically at no charge to the taxpayer.
There are four jobs for volunteers: Volunteer Tax Preparer, Intake Coordinator/Greeter, Quality Reviewer, and Tax
Volunteer Tax Preparers prepare basic tax returns, using TaxSlayer software, and file them electronically.
Intake Coordinator/Greeters oversee client sign-in, assist clients in completing the Intake sheet and direct
them to the complementary on-site services where available.
Quality Reviewers review all tax returns completed by Volunteer Tax Preparers
at the tax site, ensuring every customer visiting the site receives top quality service and that the tax returns are error-free.
Tax Coaches provide support to the taxpayers who are using the Tax
Lab - Facilitated Self Assistance sites.
I need to be a “math” person to volunteer as a Tax Preparer?
Not at all. All the math is done by computer. You need
to like to meet new people and to think logically, so that you get the information you need to complete the return. You also
need basic computer and typing skills.
How do I get the training?
You must be certified by the IRS at the Advanced level to be a Volunteer Tax Preparer.
Intake Coordinator/Greeters must take the Volunteer Standards of Conduct Training.
There are several ways to get the training and certification:
- Training workshops, including an overview of the VITA program; the Forsyth Free Tax Program; an introduction to Link and Learn; a brief tour of the resources - i.e., Pub 4012; the Intake/Interview & Quality Review
Sheet (Form 13614-C) and Health Care Coverage (ACA). You will also learn to navigate through the software by creating
two or three simple tax returns. The training is designed for new volunteers but anyone may attend. These sessions
do not include
Tax Law. All training sessions are held at Experiment in Self-Reliance,
3480 Dominion Street, Winston-Salem, NC 27105.
November 18, 8:30 am – 3:00 pm.
- Thursday, December
7 and Friday, December 8, 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
- Tuesday, January 10 and Wednesday, January 11, 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
- Saturday, January 20, 8:30 am – 3:00 pm
- Prerequisites for in-class training: Become familiar with the following topics online through Link and Learn Taxes, a self-paced e-learning for the VITA program.
- Who Must File
- Nonrefundable Credits
- Earned Income Credits
- Tax Law: IRS Representative Carolyn Jones will teach Tax Law
on Saturday, December 9, from 8:45 am – 2:45 pm.
- You can take an online "Link and Learn" course from the IRS. This
interactive course teaches the basics needed to accurately prepare 1040, 1040A, and 1040EZ income tax returns for individuals
and is completely self-paced. The 2017 tax year course and information is available at https://apps.irs.gov/app/vita/sitemap.jsp. You can get the accompanying workbooks from Delores McCullough at EISR or download them as PDF files (see Links page). These are large publications, so you might not want to print them. The
Link and Learn course also provides Practice Lab using the online software.
- You can also use the workbooks alone to study for the tests.
- Additional training opportunities are generally offered by the IRS and will be posted as they are scheduled.
AARP also offers the training in a several formats
in January. Contact Steve Graf at 336-653-9222 for more information.
There is no charge for the training or materials.
How do I take the certification tests?
In order to be certified, you must pass the Advanced test, either online or on
paper (if on paper, Shirley Abdullah at EISR will grade your test). If you do it online, you must submit your Volunteer Agreement
to Delores McCullough before volunteering.
How much time am I expected to volunteer?
Volunteer Tax Assistors are asked to commit at least ten hours a month for the 3-month tax season (30 hours total, February
to mid-April), but most volunteer one or two sessions a week (three to four hours each). You can be flexible and volunteer
at different sites as your schedule permits. You can sign up for the shifts and locations that are most convenient.
Intake Coordinator/Greeters are asked to work for 4 hours at least once a week.
the tax preparation sites this year?
VITA sites for 2018 (tax year 2017) include libraries and agencies throughout Forsyth County. Locations and times
of operation are on the Sites page.
What if I make a mistake?
No one’s perfect. But
you will be well trained and there are several checks on your work. The tax software catches most errors, and each return
is reviewed by the site manager, a Quality Specialist, or VITA director before it is actually filed.
As a VITA
volunteer you are protected from any liability for any mistakes you make.
How long does it take to prepare a return?
Most returns can be completed
in a half-hour or so. Returns for taxpayers who have multiple employers or many dependents, child care expenses, and education
credits may take longer. Careful preparation is more important than speed. You want to make sure that the taxpayer reports
income and deductions accurately, pays only what he/she owes, and gets the maximum refund for which he/she is eligible.
Why is this free tax preparation program important?
First, you are directly helping people who don’t
make a lot of money to get what they’ve earned. Even if a taxpayer isn’t eligible for the EITC, you have saved
them hundreds of dollars that a tax preparation firm would charge. And if you have filed for the EITC for someone who would
otherwise have filed a 1040-EZ and missed this credit, your work may have added up to $6,200 to their pocket. Think what difference
that could make for a family trying to buy their first house, pay off bills, or just keep their children in clothes and food.
Second, the EITC helps our local economy. The IRS estimates that Forsyth
County taxpayers did not claim $8,000,000 (yes, eight million dollars) in EITC for which they were eligible. That’s
money that could be spent locally and support our local economy. By offering free tax preparation, you can help ensure that
those dollars come home.
Call Delores McCullough at ESR
- 722-9400 x 172 for more information or to sign up and get materials. Or send her an email with your contact information.